With the elevation of Paul Nuttall to the leadership of UKIP, we must accept that the prospects for a progressive civic nationalist movement in England have receded into the mists of political wishful thinking. It may well be a lost cause, at least for the foreseeable future. Normal service will not be resumed any time soon.
Of course, UKIP was never likely to be the vehicle for that progressive English nationalism. On the contrary, it is probably the single greatest impediment to the evolution of a movement that approximately mirrors in England what the SNP represents in Scotland. Namely, a positive, inclusive, outward-looking nationalism that is principally concerned with effective democracy and good governance. A modern form of nationalism that values community membership over ethnicity and concerns itself with jurisdictional appropriateness rather than territorial integrity. An aspirational nationalism characterised more by principled pragmatism than by ideological dogma. None of which describes UKIP.
Aided by sensation-craving media, which have long afforded Farage’s colourful troupe of clowns a prominence out of all proportion to their political and electoral significance, UKIP has effectively occupied the space in which a more rationally reformist challenge to the corrupt and dysfunctional British state might have developed.
The fertile soil of dissatisfaction and discontent from which a progressive civic nationalist movement might have emerged has been salted by the toxic rhetoric of fear and hate.
The anger and resentment born of decades of economically destructive and socially corrosive mismanagement, which might have been harnessed to bring about meaningful change, has instead been directed against facile stereotypes and easy scapegoats.
I take no satisfaction whatever from the realisation that Nuttall’s appointment signals an acceleration of the divergence between political cultures north and south of the border, and a hastening of the day this divergence becomes so great as to remove any possible doubt about the need to dissolve the political union between England and Scotland.Views: 2006
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